'As a smoker, there was no heft to the experience'

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 05 March, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 05 March, 2009, 12:00am

The electronic cigarette is strange and fun, mystifying and intriguing - but when push comes to smoke, the gadget is a novelty act, a pet rock, a gimmick to move with the times.

A Post reporter, who alternates his days between quitting heroically and smoking relentlessly, was asked to test the banned doodad.

The battery-operated device is a bit heavier than a coffin nail, but it is not bothersome. It delivered pleasing draws of nicotine relief that tasted like burnt chocolate. And a smoky mystery mist appeared with each exhale. Another plus is that the gizmo's tip glowed orange with each draw.

Other benefits? The manufacturer claims there's no second-hand smoke, no carcinogen worry, no falling asleep and burning down the house.

Still, with all the perks, the reporter can't back the stick. As a smoker, there was no heft to the experience. As a non-smoker, there was no healthy sacrifice.

Electronic cigarettes were still available for sale yesterday at a wine store, Cheers at Olympian City, after the Department of Health called on smokers not to use the devices until their safety, efficacy and quality was established.

The product, which is sold at HK$580 with a coupon, originally cost HK$1,880.

'The product is made in China and then shipped back to Europe and then exported to other places. It contains no nicotine and it is legal for you to buy it and possess it,' a shopkeeper told a reporter posing as a customer. The shop assistant also told the reporter that the product was exempted from Hong Kong laws, claiming it was nicotine-free.

'Quite a lot of customers have brought this electronic cigarette and some elderly smokers told me that it can really help them quit smoking,' the shopkeeper said.

Electronic cigarettes were also available at another outlet of Cheers at Hollywood Plaza in Diamond Hill.